Today's subject, the second installment of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, "Fool Moon"
Released in 2001, this book still contains some references that date the piece (pay phones again). Here we get our first glimpse of Jim Butcher honing his craft. There are some noticeable improvements to his writing here. So lets dive in!
We pick up with Harry who, as is common early in his career, is languishing somewhere between broke and homelessness. Too poor to afford a meal at his favorite spot, we find him dining with an lady seeking arcane guidance on a subject she shouldn't be aware of. Harry's predicament is one where releasing information could land him in nigh scalding water with the (still vaguely threatening) White Council. This story takes on a rapid pace immediately after the end of this meeting, and Fool Moon becomes a tangle of sub-plots which intertwine beautifully.
In this book we learn a good bit more about Harry's capabilities and how far into the "grey area" of the laws of magic he is willing to work in.
Fool Moon boasts powerful recurring characters, such as the Chicago mob boss "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, the always reliable police Lt. Karrin Murphy (go Murph!), and 'The Alphas". Some supporting characters, whom we gradually become acquainted with over the series, get some development as well (pay attention to mob enforcers and the named police officers... they show up in future books).
This book has its tragically heroic moments. No spoilers on this, but look for the extraordinary actions of an ordinary cop to show you the strength people can muster. (No I'm not tearing up at all.. leave me alone!)
There is also the beginning of an underlying theme that you pick up on throughout the series. That dark magic is beginning to rise, and common people are often its victim or tool. Its been years since I read this book the first time (I've read it five time now, and I'm planning on reading it again in the coming year) and to this day, I still wonder where the belts came from...
Take note of the appearance of the Alphas in the series. They grow and develop just as Dresden does throughout the series. This reinforces the sensation of time spent getting to know the series and the world, as it leaves one with a sense of years passing before you. Savor this aspect of The Dresden Files.
Jim Butcher's talent for story telling is undeniable. Fool Moon serves as our first proof that he continues to hone his craft. Butcher's writing flows more smoothly in Fool Moon than in Storm Front. His scene transitions have a more natural feel to them. Character descriptions are more evocative, and the crafting of dialogue is very nicely done. Jim Butcher really "leveled up" as a writer with Fool Moon.
This book also demonstrates that it is a good idea for your protagonist to lose a fight (sometimes). Harry Dresden learns a lot from getting beaten up. So much so that later in the series he gets beaten up less and less. There is value to the scars Harry earns in Fool Moon, so do check it out.
Fans of modern fantasy, gumshoe detective stories, and supernatural thrillers. I also recommend this book for anyone who ever felt out of place at college or otherwise socially alienated. The Alphas are a great bunch of characters who are easy to empathize with, so I also recommend this book for role-playing gamers of any genre (though their gaming hobby doesn't come out until later on). If you read Storm Front then you owe it to yourself to read Fool Moon.
Not Recommended For:
People who have experienced recent deaths in their family. There is a lot of death in this book. Some of it is graphically described. Police and other first responders who have suffered the recent loss of a co-worker/partner/team mate should wait until they've had a good grieving period before picking this book up.
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